With the police already stationed across the road from LMH’s head office, the demonstration, also consisting of Liverpool Against the Cuts activists, members of Solidarity Federation, Anarchist Federation and Stand Up in Bootle! were content to generate interest from motorists and passers-by, informing them of what the bedroom tax is and getting them to signal their solidarity with tenants who in less than 2 months will be hit by an chaotic upheaval in their lives and homes.
Once the police had ‘deftly’ assumed nowt was going on, the call went round to occupy LMH’s head office, and within minutes Combat the Bedroom Tax were chanting "can’t pay! won’t pay!" to the bewilderment of LMH staff. We took a little time to explain to those staff who’d been sent out to deal with us that’d they’d be indirectly hit by the Bedroom Tax, but this fell on deaf ears as they spent most of their time complaining about the noise.
It was horrifying, but unsurprising, to hear the two stooges sent out to ‘reason’ with occupiers regurgitate the same lies and spin the government pumps out on a daily basis about the bedroom tax; how it will make space for overcrowded families —lie; how it will reduce the housing benefit bill —lie; how nobody will be evicted —lie; how they are helping tenants with the bedroom tax —lies, lies and damned lies!
LMH’s chief executive Steve Coffey, who dredged up complaints to have staff sacked, was naturally out-of-the-office, but did find time to console LMH tenants on a local radio phone-in. This is the same housing association chief exec that’s proposing tenants do unpaid work, workfare, so they don’t get kicked out over the bedroom tax.
According to the director of housing at LMH, Angela Forshaw, who responded to the protest, “[t]here are many nuances to the bedroom tax that some tenants won’t be aware of”. Say, for example, eviction? Angela also said they oppose the bedroom tax and have “lobbied government to re-think its policy”.
If they’d seriously opposed the bedroom tax, then Combat the Bedroom Tax would not be occupying their head office. No, instead, they vainly ‘lobbied’ the government to have a ‘re-think’. Duh. Fast forward to now, and here we have tenants having to face their housing association coming round and collecting the bedroom tax. They are complicit in its implementation and have already signalled to tenants whose side they’re on. And it’s not the tenants'!
It's only tenant solidarity and direct action that will make the bedroom tax go someplace else and die.